‘After our meeting, I want another half an hour to talk about something personal’, said Damayanti on the call. Damayanti told me of her sister-in-law, Anandi, a stay-at-home mom for 18 years. ‘Take a look at the CV. I really want her to meet you. She is depressed. My husband and I want her to get out of the house and do something’. Anandi’s CV showed that she was a creative person. In her short professional career of 3 years she had worked as graphic artist and assistant designer.
Anandi quit after her son was born. She enjoyed being in her little world – house proud, interested in crafts, reading and working out regularly at the gym. She took an advanced diploma in business administration. The little cracks in her marriage had turned into huge clefts over the years and she was at a point of no return. Getting back to work was important and Damayanti wanted Anandi to sign-up for a ‘Back to Work’ internship.
At Lumiere we provide a platform to empower women professionals to get back to work by leveraging the organisation culture and people, process and technology
The Back to Work internship requires full-time attendance, 5 days a week at our Nerul office and working on site on projects as required.
Testing: Anandi took the verbal, analytical and the FIRO-B and the Gallup StrengthsFinder. Her Empathy, Relator, Responsibility, Restorative and Learner talents told us that Anandi would be sincere, committed and a team player.
How it works: In the 3 months, Anandi is expected to learn and polish technical skills and get basic domain knowledge in marketing research. We gave her a first class pass from home to work. She received a small stipend to take care of her local travel.She will receive coaching and mentoring and scheduled weekly feedback.
Coaching and Mentoring: We coached Anandi on learning to use her talents to get positive outcomes. She got mentored on building personal mastery. She was taught to ‘name, claim and aim’ her talents. We used the classical coaching approach to get her to come to terms with her shifts and counselled her on managing her new role and life-stage.
Skilling: Anandi underwent class room training including a Masterclass in Moderator skills. A natural conversationalist and a good listener, Anandi was adept at conducting one-on-one interviews. She showed high levels of ownership. In her three months at Lumiere, Anandi had a buddy in Lumiere who guided her with process. Anandi had two people in the Lumiere team she traveled with.
Flexibility: During the internship Anandi had applied for a months leave to be around her daughter’s board exams. After being around for her daughter all these years, it was only understandable that she would want to be there for her daughter.
Challenges: Software and technology was a bug bear and Anandi often got impatient with herself as she took longer than her colleagues in preparing documents. She made high quality working documents which were rich and detailed. She learned to analyse and was assigned to senior team members as part of the analysis team. She did not like analysis and presentation making. ‘I am too slow and I keep forgetting the keys’ she would lament. She was skilled in making non-threatening conversation and showed great potential to develop into a good moderator.
Closure: Anandi completed her 3 month stint and received a certificate and recommendation letter. She has an interview in a multinational company in a customer relations role.
My Lumiere experience: ‘My experience with Lumiere has been a relearning of sorts and an enriching one. Getting back to work after a long break of 18 years was challenging, and it was Lumiere that gave me the much needed opportunity. Coming from a creative field, research was new to me. Being here got me to think of capabilities, strengths and skill sets. With a lot of learning in terms of work as well as insight into the working of the industry, the Lumiere team has been very supportive and encouraging all along. Thank you for everything and you will continue to be family to me’, writes Anandi. An internship to learn to ropes to get back to work and life.
Deepa starts working at Hindustan Unilever Ltd., and after working there for a few years decides to take a career break to take care of her son. The family plans to move to Jamaica, and she wishes to resume working. There are not a lot of opportunities post a career break for her, and this makes her realise the plight of women all across the world who are trying to resume working after taking a break. The seed for Lumière is planted. Deepa joins J.A. Young Research Ltd. to get back to her roots, and ultimately decides to start her own firm under her CA's advise.
Start of Lumière Consultancy in Jamaica
The family is aching to return to India, and post the birth of her second child, Deepa gets an offer from HUL to rejoin them. She has an itch to make it on her own, and so declines. This results in a different type of engagement between the two, and Lumière engages exclusively with HUL by expanding their scope. Deepa builds a stronghold in consumer behavior, and Lumière develops into an entity of its own. Inception of 'Consumer Centricity', which is their future key to strength, begins. With an expansion in their work, they need more resources and a group of like-minded talented professional women to join the team. Lumière gives them solace, a place to grow, rebuild their careers, and achieve goals beyond their expectations. They begin with mentoring initiatives, with an urge to inspire young individuals. People approach them through word-of-mouth, references, and to create opportunities beyong market research, Lumière becomes a Pvt. Ltd. company.
An opportunity arises to be a part of something big, to analyse the growth mindset and the creation of a best practice document for sequential recycling. Lumière makes an impact across categories and branches into Product Testing and Category Creation.
Lumière touches ₹ 1 crore. Their brochure is presented at MRSI. The company turns 10, and Milind joins the team as an observer. This becomes the phase of Lumière's upheavel: from scaling up, digitization and automation of processes, to plugging in leakages across departments and accounts. Their billings reach ₹ 3 crores.
Rashmi Bansal dedicates a chapter of her book 'Follow Every Rainbow' to Deepa and Lumière. The company enters adulthood, and they facilitate change management for Lumière. The introduction of the Gallup Strengths to the portfolio is a game changer. A revamp of the technological infrastructure ensues, giving way to an articulation of Lumière 3.0.